Life-Changing Surgery: Disconnecting Half of a 6-Year-Old Girl’s Brain to Treat SeizuresOctober 27, 2023
Revolutionary Swiss-Designed Technology Restores Mobility for Parkinson’s PatientsNovember 8, 2023
In this comprehensive guide, we aim to explore the treatment landscape of severe aplastic anemia, with a particular focus on the prescription medicine, PROMACTA® (eltrombopag). We will discuss into how this medication offers hope to patients, examine how it works, discuss the findings from clinical trials, shed light on its adverse effects, and discuss its efficacy when utilized in combination with standard immunosuppressive therapy.
What is PROMACTA and how it helps in Severe Aplastic Anemia (SAA)?
Defining PROMACTA and aplastic Anemia
PROMACTA, also known by its generic name eltrombopag, is a prescription medicine used to treat patients with aplastic anemia. Aplastic anaemia is a condition where the bone marrow fails to make enough blood cells, leading to low blood platelet counts, also known as thrombocytopenia, and complications like persistent or chronic immune thrombocytopenia (ITP).
Symptoms of aplastic anemia may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid or irregular heart rate
- Pale skin
- Frequent or prolonged infections
- Unexplained or easy bruising
- Nosebleeds and bleeding gums
- Prolonged bleeding from cuts
- Skin rash
Causes of aplastic anemia can include:
- Exposure to certain toxins such as pesticides, arsenic, and benzene
- Treatment with certain drugs, such as those used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and some antibiotics
- Certain blood diseases, autoimmune disorders, and serious infections
- Pregnancy (in rare cases)
- Radiation and chemotherapy treatments
In many cases, the cause of aplastic anemia is unknown. This is referred to as idiopathic aplastic anemia.
The role of PROMACTA in SAA
PROMACTA plays a crucial role in the treatment of aplastic anemia by stimulating platelet production in patients with SAA. Being a potent thrombopoietin receptor agonist, it aids in managing low blood platelet counts and mitigating related health risks.
Indications for PROMACTA® (eltrombopag)
- Thrombocytopenia in Adult and Pediatric Patients with Persistent or Chronic Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP): PROMACTA is indicated for the treatment of thrombocytopenia in adult and pediatric patients 1 year and older with persistent or chronic ITP who have had an insufficient response to corticosteroids, immunoglobulins, or splenectomy. It should be used only in patients with ITP whose degree of thrombocytopenia and clinical condition increase the risk for bleeding.
- Thrombocytopenia in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C: PROMACTA is indicated for the treatment of thrombocytopenia in patients with chronic hepatitis C to allow the initiation and maintenance of interferon-based therapy. It should be used only in patients with chronic hepatitis C whose degree of thrombocytopenia prevents the initiation of interferon-based therapy or limits the ability to maintain interferon-based therapy.
- Severe Aplastic Anemia: PROMACTA is indicated in combination with standard immunosuppressive therapy for the first-line treatment of adult and pediatric patients 2 years and older with severe aplastic anemia. It is indicated for the treatment of patients with severe aplastic anemia who have had an insufficient response to immunosuppressive therapy.
It is important to note that PROMACTA is not indicated for the treatment of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), and its safety and efficacy have not been established in combination with direct-acting antiviral agents used without interferon for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C infection.
Understanding Hematopoiesis in refractory SAA with PROMACTA
In patients with refractory severe aplastic anemia, PROMACTA activates thrombopoietin receptors to steer hematopoiesis – the production of much-needed blood cells from hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow.
How Eltrombopag Combats SAA: The Mechanism of Action
Understanding how eltrombopag works
Eltrombopag operates by simulating the effects of thrombopoietin, a hormone produced by the liver that influences platelet formation. In doing so, it prompts the bone marrow to produce more platelets, thus alleviating thrombocytopenia in patients with severe aplastic anemia.
Eltrombopag and bone marrow: A significant interplay
When administered, eltrombopag interacts with the thrombopoietin receptor in the bone marrow, facilitating the release of platelets from the bone marrow into the bloodstream.
The effects of eltrombopag on blood cell production
Beyond its platelet-enhancing role, eltrombopag also has observable effect on other types of blood cell production. Some patients display improved red blood cell and white blood cell numbers post-treatment with PROMACTA.
Insights from Clinical Trials: Use of eltrombopag in SAA treatment
Key findings from clinical trials on eltrombopag use for SAA
Rigorous clinical trials, including those conducted by the National Institutes of Health, have demonstrated the effectiveness of eltrombopag in treating acquired aplastic anemia,responsive to standard immunosuppressive therapy.
The hematologic response to eltrombopag
Clinical trial data reveals that a significant number of SAA patients showed positive hematologic responses post-treatment with eltrombopag, especially in terms of improved platelet counts.
The impact of eltrombopag on blood platelet count in SAA patients
Empirical evidence suggests that patients with aplastic anemia who receive eltrombopag have a considerable increase in platelet count, affirming the drug’s therapeutic value in this area.
Adverse Effects of Eltrombopag: A comprehensive examination
Common side effects associated with eltrombopag use
While PROMACTA is beneficial in treating SAA, it may also present common side effects including nausea, diarrhea, and upper respiratory tract infections among others.
The risk of cataracts and chronic hepatitis C in eltrombopag users
Though rare, there are risks associated with eltrombopag use. These include the development of cataracts and the triggering of chronic hepatitis C. As such, close monitoring is recommended during treatment with PROMACTA.
Evaluating the life-threatening risks of eltrombopag
Some life-threatening complications may arise as a side effect of PROMACTA. Liver problems, for example, have been reported to worsen in patients with chronic hepatitis C who were taking eltrombopag.
Efficacy of PROMACTA in combination with standard immunosuppressive therapy
Benefits of combining PROMACTA with standard therapy
Increasing evidence suggests that the combination of PROMACTA with standard immunosuppressive therapy proves successful in increasing the overall response rate in patients with SAA.
Clinical trial findings on the combination of eltrombopag and standard therapy
The beneficial effect of the combination of eltrombopag and standard immunosuppressive therapy is backed by clinical trials that confirm increased complete response rates among SAA patients.
Dealing with Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) using a combination approach
The combination treatment also emerged effective in managing myelodysplastic syndrome, a group of disorders characterized by poorly formed blood cells or cells that don’t work properly, evident in some patients with severe aplastic anemia.
Q: What is PROMACTA and when is it prescribed?
A: PROMACTA is a prescription medicine used to treat adults and children 2 years of age and older with low blood platelet counts due to chronic immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) when other treatments have not worked well enough. It is also used to treat certain patients with severe aplastic anemia (SAA) when other treatments have not worked well enough. It’s important for patients to see the full prescribing information including the boxed warning and to consult with their healthcare provider to understand if PROMACTA is right for them.
Q: How does PROMACTA work?
A: PROMACTA works by stimulating the bone marrow to produce more platelets. This increase in blood counts can help to reduce the risk of bleeding in individuals with chronic immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) or those with severe aplastic anemia (SAA). Treatment with eltrombopag, the active ingredient in PROMACTA, has been shown to be effective in increasing platelet counts in these conditions.
Q: Can PROMACTA be used as a first treatment for adults with severe aplastic anemia (SAA)?
A: PROMACTA may be used as a first treatment for adults with severe aplastic anemia (SAA) when other treatments have not worked well enough. This decision should be made based on a full evaluation by a healthcare provider who can assess the benefits and risks for the individual patient.
Q: Is PROMACTA also used to treat conditions other than ITP and SAA?
A: Yes, in addition to its use in treating chronic immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) and severe aplastic anemia (SAA), PROMACTA is also used to treat patients with hepatitis C-related thrombocytopenia who are scheduled to undergo antiviral therapy. Treatment decisions should always be made in consultation with a healthcare provider.
Q: At what age can children start treatment with PROMACTA?
A: Children 2 years of age and older can be treated with PROMACTA if they have chronic immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) that has not been sufficiently managed with other treatments. For severe aplastic anemia (SAA), decisions about treatment in pediatric patients should be made by a healthcare provider.
Q: Does PROMACTA increase the risk of any side effects?
A: PROMACTA may increase the risk of liver problems, developing a blood clot, worsening of a precancerous blood condition to a blood cancer (leukemia), and cataracts. These are not all the possible side effects of PROMACTA. Patients should consult the full prescribing information and talk to their healthcare provider about any side effects they experience during treatment with eltrombopag.
Q: Is PROMACTA safe and effective for use after stem cell transplantation?
A: It is not known if PROMACTA is safe and effective for use to increase blood counts in a bone marrow or stem cell transplantation setting. Further research or a specific assessment by a healthcare provider is required to determine safety and effectiveness in these cases.
Q: How long does it typically take for PROMACTA to work?
A: The time it takes for PROMACTA to work can vary from patient to patient. Some may see an improvement in blood counts within 1-2 weeks, while for others it might take longer. Continuous monitoring and adjustment by a healthcare provider are essential to ensure the best treatment outcomes.
Q: Can PROMACTA cure chronic ITP or SAA?
A: There is currently no cure for chronic immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) or severe aplastic anemia (SAA). However, treatment with eltrombopag, the active ingredient in PROMACTA, can help manage symptoms by increasing blood platelet counts. It’s important for patients to discuss treatment goals and expectations with their healthcare provider.
Q: What are the key things I should know before starting treatment with PROMACTA?
A: Before starting treatment with PROMACTA, patients should know that it is a medicine used to treat adults and children 2 years of age and older with certain blood conditions. They should be aware of the potential risks and side effects, including boxed warning, and that regular blood tests will be necessary to monitor for safety and to adjust the dose as needed. It’s critical for patients to have an in-depth conversation with their healthcare provider to understand all the important information about the medication.
Relevant links and references
- PROMACTA Prescribing Information – This document provides detailed prescribing information for PROMACTA, including indications, dosing, and safety information.
- Thrombocytopenia in Adult and Pediatric Patients with Persistent or Chronic Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP) – This page on the Novartis website provides information about the use of PROMACTA for the treatment of thrombocytopenia in patients with persistent or chronic ITP.
- Thrombocytopenia in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C – This page on the Novartis website discusses the use of PROMACTA for the treatment of thrombocytopenia in patients with chronic hepatitis C.
- Severe Aplastic Anemia – This page on the Novartis website provides information about the use of PROMACTA in combination with standard immunosuppressive therapy for the treatment of severe aplastic anemia.
- Eltrombopag: Mechanism of Action – This article from the New England Journal of Medicine discusses the mechanism of action of eltrombopag in treating severe aplastic anemia.
- Clinical Trials on Eltrombopag for Severe Aplastic Anemia – This article from the New England Journal of Medicine provides insights from clinical trials on the use of eltrombopag for the treatment of severe aplastic anemia.